Get real: PatchScan app, official BSA hologram make it easy to see what’s legit

hologram-patch“Only three of these patches were ever made. Baden-Powell’s granddaughter sewed each one by hand using thread from a jacket once worn by James E. West.”

Does that patch-trading pitch make your Spidey sense tingle?

In the past, you might have just laughed, said “no deal” and walked away. Now, verifying the claim is as easy as pulling out your smartphone.

The Boy Scouts of America’s official, free PatchScan app, available for iOS and Android devices, takes the guesswork out of patch trading and reduces your chances of trading for a “limited-edition” patch that’s actually 1 of 50,000.

The process is simple. You open the app, scan the QR code on the back of a patch and wait for the patch’s stats to appear on screen.

Why is this app necessary? Because while we all know Scouts and Scouters are trustworthy, some odious outsiders see creating faux BSA memorabilia as a way to make a quick buck.

PatchScan (which I first told you about during the 2013 jamboree) is one of two tools the BSA’s Supply Group has in place to help you identify authentic products. The other is a hologram, like the one seen above, that tells you you’re holding an officially licensed product. Look for it on BSA merchandise including headwear, apparel, patches and more.

The BSA isn’t the first to use these shiny identifiers. Sports leagues, for example, have for years used holograms to signify authentic jerseys, hats and T-shirts.

PatchScan, meanwhile, has already been used more than 100,000 times by Scouts and Scouters looking for a leg up in the game of patch trading and collecting. QR codes will become mandatory on council shoulder patches, jamboree shoulder patches, OA lodge flaps and pocket patches, and sets of flaps or CSPs beginning in June 2014.

Learn more and see some screenshots after the jump. Continue reading


New patch-trading app, official seal answer question: ‘Is it authentic?’

“No, dude, I swear,” a Scout said. “There were only 500 of these patches ever made.”

I heard similar claims all throughout the patch trading bazaar that has cropped up under the overhangs at the still-to-be-completed Scott Visitor Center at the Summit.

Everywhere, patch traders hawked their wares from zip-top bags or sprawling blankets while swearing that the patch they were offering was the rarest one around.

It was chaos. And then I spotted James, a Scout from C241 in the Mecklenburg County Council, who was calmly looking at his iPhone.

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Jamboree Scouts show off their prized patch possessions

Like the dinner menu, a Scout’s favorite patch changes daily at the jamboree.

But this afternoon, I walked around asking Scouts to show off what they consider their coolest patch — for today, at least.

These were mainly national jamboree patches, though one Scout chose a Cub Scout day camp patch “because it has a smiling Bigfoot on it.”

Hey, who’s to say he’s wrong? Here are 13 patches Scouts picked out when I asked for their favorite. Before each photo I’ve listed the Scout’s first name, jamboree troop number, and the council represented on the Scout’s favorite patch: Continue reading


Watch BSA posters get appraised on ‘Antiques Roadshow’

Antiques-Roadshow-logo(Updated Jan. 8, 2013)

The 10-time Emmy nominated Antiques Roadshow, “part adventure, part history lesson, part treasure hunt,” kicked off its 17th season with an episode featuring a little something for Scouting collectors.

The show’s premiere took us to Corpus Christi, Tex., and included a very-brief appraisal of Boy Scout posters.

Admittedly, when I first heard the show would feature BSA memorabilia, I had hoped the BSA segment would be longer. As it is, you can watch the 60-second appraisal of some BSA posters right here.

You Tell Me

What’s your most-prized piece of BSA memorabilia? And if you had to guess, what would you set as its dollar value? Leave your comment below.

Note from Bryan (Jan. 8, 2013): In an earlier version of this post, I oversold the BSA segment’s length and its depth. I was basing that on the information PBS sent to the BSA last month, and I published this post before I had seen the clip myself. I apologize for the confusion.


Should an adult trade patches with a Scout?

Scouts trade with Scouts; adults trade with adults.

Along with “trade one for one,” “always shake hands,” and “don’t bring money into a deal,” it’s one of the central tenets of patch trading.

But does that age-old rule still make sense? Or should Scouts and adults be allowed to swap patches under certain circumstances?

I ask because I recently learned that adults will be able to trade with Scouts at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree — but only in designated, supervised areas.

Here are the facts:

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New York council patch serves as a nice tribute to Sept. 11

Post updated on June 5. See below.

OK, this is really nice.

The Greater New York Councils created the special-edition council shoulder patch seen above to commemorate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The patch, called “A Tribute in Light,” depicts the real-life Sept. 11 memorial displayed in New York each year. The twin beams of light shine from dusk on Sept. 11 through dawn the next day and can be seen for 60 miles.

It’s the first in the councils’ “Big Apple Series,” which is an annual “council shoulder patch series capturing the essence and world famous landmarks of the greatest city in the world.”

I love New York, and so I’m excited to see which landmark the councils showcase next. But it’s only fitting that they start with this moving tribute both to those who were lost and to those who are still healing from that terrible tragedy.

If you want one of these patches, read on to learn how to buy your own.

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Scout Stuff Book BSA

Scout Stuff collector’s book

With more than 100 years of history, it’s no surprise that Scouting has seen its fair share of innovation and change. And collecting historic artifacts — uniforms, handbooks, and, of course, patches — from the past is a popular activity with many Scouts and Scouters.

Now, you can teleport back in time with the simple turn of a page in the soon-to-be-released Boy Scouts of America Scout Stuff: A Unique Collection of Memorabilia written by Robert Birkby, author of the Boy Scout Handbook and several other official BSA publications. Continue reading


Memorabilia Monday: A Boys’ Life streetcar advertisement you’ll desire


Look up while riding a bus or train today, and you’ll probably see ads for the latest movie or hit TV show.

But if you rode one of San Francisco’s famous streetcars in the 1930s, you might have spotted the Boys’ Life advertisement seen above.

The ad, printed on a stiff piece of cardboard, appeared on the Market Street Railway in The City by the Bay. Continue reading

Memorabilia Monday: Honk if you love the Boy Scouts of America

1957 Michigan National Jamboree plate

Living in Texas, I see this “Scouting Teaches Values” license plate on the highway at least once a week. You’ll find similar plates on vehicles in Utah, Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, Ohio, Colorado, and many more states.

But, as I found out today, BSA-themed license plates are nothing new. In fact, for David Miura of the Pacific Skyline Council, these plates represent the confluence of two collecting hobbies: BSA memorabilia and license plates.

He sent a photo of the plate seen above, which was a limited-edition release at the time of the 1957 National Scout Jamboree.

Here’s what he wrote:

I have been collecting Boy Scout council shoulder patches and automobile license plates since I was a kid, and this 1957 Michigan National Jamboree plate is the perfect crossover of my two hobbies. 150 plates were mounted on special Plymouth vehicles that were loaned to the BSA for staff and VIP use at the Jamboree site at Valley Forge, Pa. Some of the cars were also used to transport the contingent from Tall Pine Council of Flint, Mich.

I’ve displayed this plate and my Boy Scout-themed license plate collection at both the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) national convention and the International Scouting Collectors Association( ISCA) NOAC trade-o-ree and have received positive response from both collecting communities.

Thanks for letting me share.

Pretty sweet! Thanks for sharing, David.

As for the rest of you, send me a photo of your favorite piece of Scouting memorabilia. Find out how after the jump.

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